George W. Bush’s Rehabilitation

bush-miss-me-yet-billboard-photo-croppedProfessional iconoclast Stanley Fish has been predicting for a while that people would come to miss George W. Bush once the heated controversies of the moment had faded and the big picture emerged. Now, he sees evidence that he was right.

A perhaps more substantial sign incorporates a sign famous (or infamous) in the Bush presidency. The March 8 cover of Newsweek reproduces the famous 2003 photograph of Bush on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Lincoln. The president is in the left of the picture, striding away from the famous banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished.”

Those words haunted Bush for the next five years, but now, Newsweek reports, they may play differently because — and this is emblazoned on the cover — we may have “Victory At Last.” It has to be said, declare the cover-story’s writers, that “now almost seven hellish years later . . . something that looks mighty like democracy is emerging in Iraq”; and, they add (eerily echoing Bush’s words in 2003), this development “most certainly is a watershed event that could come to represent a whole new era in the history of the massively undemocratic Middle East.”

Of course, one might disagree with that assessment, but the fact that it is made in the lead article of a major mainstream magazine tells its own story. It is a story that intersects with another, the story of the precipitous decline in Barack Obama’s support and of a growing suspicion, found on the left as well as on the right, where it is much more than a suspicion, that the politics of change may have been a slogan with less promise in its future than “Mission Accomplished.” (The imminent passage of a health care bill keeps being predicted, but so far no “victory at last.”)

Analyses of how this has happened are plentiful and varied, but most agree that it had something to do with the summer of 2009, when the town meetings that seemed a good, nicely democratic idea in the spring turned into a recruiting device for the angry crowds that would become the Tea Party.

At the same time, Bush profited from the fact that he kept a low profile and didn’t snipe at his successor, a task left to his vice president, who therefore took upon himself the enmity and scorn previously directed at his former boss. Dick Cheney was, in effect, a lightning rod, and he was joined in that function by Sarah Palin, who slid neatly into the slot Bush had occupied in the mind of all good liberals for eight long years. Hatred and contempt of Palin is now the favorite pastime of those who have abandoned the cowboy from Texas and transferred their obsessive animus to the belle of Alaska (who, I say again, is more formidable than many in both parties believe.)

Meanwhile, Bush’s policies came to seem less obviously reprehensible as the Obama administration drifted into embracing watered-down versions of many of them. Guantanamo hasn’t been closed. No Child Left Behind is being revised and perhaps improved, but not repealed. The banks are still engaging in their bad practices. Partisanship is worse than ever. Obama seems about to back away from the decision to try 9/11 defendants in civilian courts, a prospect that led the ACLU to run an ad in Sunday’s Times with the subheading “Change or more of the same?” Above that question is a series of photographs that shows Obama morphing into guess who — yes, that’s right, George W. Bush.

And now, right on schedule, Bush has resurfaced (just as I imagined him doing a year ago last September ) to join Bill Clinton in a humanitarian relief effort. He is officially a member in good standing of the ex-presidents club, and the longer he lives the more his reputation will be burnished. To be sure, his post-presidency resume is still thin, but we can expect it to be beefed up by good deeds, ceremonial appearances and the activities that will surround the building and opening of his library at Southern Methodist University. We’ll see Bush the tour guide and Bush the patron of historical scholarship and, perhaps, even Bush the seminar leader.

And the judgment of history? Well, I’m not that foolish, but I will venture to say that it will be more nuanced than anything the professional Bush-haters — indistinguishable in temperament from the professional Obama-haters — are now able to imagine. He will not go to the top of the list, but neither will he be the figure of fun and derision he seemed destined to be only a year ago. You heard it here.

This all strikes me as reasonable up to a point.   Frankly, given how low the opinion of Bush was when he left office — with many proclaiming him The Worst President Ever — he has nowhere to go but up.

Will Bush ever be regarded as a great president in the tradition of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, TR, FDR, and Reagan?  Nope.  But he wasn’t an awful president, either.   And, depending on how Iraq shakes out, he might even be thought of as a pretty good one.

Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower were both viewed as, at best, mediocrities when they left office.  Both are rated much more highly with the advantage of perspective.

In hindsight, the Iraq War won’t be viewed as a debacle along the lines of Vietnam.  I don’t know that it’ll ever be viewed as a great success — and I say that as someone who has reluctantly supported the effort since 2003 — but the cost in American lives has been small in any historical sense and the possibility for significant, positive regional impact remains.

Additionally, I think, Bush’s handling of Katrina disaster will be more fairly judged in hindsight as a series of unfortunate events uncontrollable from Washington.  FEMA was dispatched quickly but the infrastructure simply wasn’t in place — in still isn’t — to deal with an unprecedented flood in New Orleans.  Nor did it help to have an incompetent mayor and governor mucking things up.   But given the bitterness of the moment, it was easy to just shrug it off as Bush not wanting to lift a finger to help out a poor, predominately black city.

Fish is also right on the whole series of things that Democrats in general and Obama in particular railed about under Bush that are now quietly being adopted.   Bush had to make a lot of hard decisions and made many of them badly.  But, in many of those cases, the alternatives were awful, too.   We all mocked Bush for repeatedly pointing out during the 2004 debates that being president was “hard work.”  But, it turns out, it actually is.

FILED UNDER: Democracy, Iraq War, Middle East, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Alex Knapp says:

    Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower were both viewed as, at best, mediocrities when they left office. Both are rated much more highly with the advantage of perspective.

    That they are rated highly doesn’t change the fact that they were mediocrities. Americans have strange ways of judging their Presidents–we judge their “success” the ways that old propagandists judged the success of Kings–how well did they project their power? Eisenhower, don’t forget, is responsible for assisting in the overthrow of the democratically elected republic of Iran, leading to over a half-century of animosity between us and Iran. He also helped pave the path to the U.S. propping up Latin American banana republics, the memory of which allows folks like Chavez to obtain power.

    but the cost in American lives has been small in any historical sense

    Well, that’s true, but in large part it’s because medical technology has advanced significantly. There are lots of Iraq War vets walking around whose injuries would have killed them in previous wars. And while being horribly maimed is preferable to dying in most cases, that still poses a significant “cost in American lives.”

    Fish is also right on the whole series of things that Democrats in general and Obama in particular railed about under Bush that are now quietly being adopted.

    Yes, but those things aren’t being adopted because it’s the right thing to do, but rather because they increase the power of the executive branch. That’s not a good thing. But historians rate the “success” of a President more along the lines of “did he get his way?” rather than “did he do good things?”

  2. Gerry W. says:

    Sorry to be so harsh, but I view Bush as a nut. It was stay the course, run the country on ideology, and run the country into the ground. When something bad happened (Medicare part D) then just spend the money. Going to Iraq, Bush said he “listened to a higher authority.” And on Katrina, they had a teleconference on the hurricane on a Friday night with Bush and all others in the cabinet. FEMA was in control by Brown, who had no emergency management. Whether or not Louisiana or New Orleans was under bad management, would have made no difference. James Lee Witt ran FEMA before and he would have had field agents set up there before, during, and after the hurricane. Bush consolidated FEMA and there was little left.

    A little off subject, but here is an article on how we lost jobs due to monopolies, consolidation, and laissez-faire policies. It is time to get away from failed ideologies and start fixing this country. This is one reason why we are where we are.

  3. john personna says:

    Anyone who misses GWB is failing some kind of test.

    Most likely they slept through the GWB years, misunderstood what was baked in for future administrations. I mean, tax cuts without spending cuts are great … for a little while. Wars run on debt are good … for a little while. Burgeoning medical programs run without funding are great … for a little while.

  4. kth says:

    Stanley Fish is, like Michel Foucault, a lefty lit-crit type who hates liberal democracy. And exactly as Foucault admired the Iranian revolution, Fish admires Sarah Palin and the tea party tendency–not because either will advance society one iota towards goals they espouse (Foucault was, of course, a sexual radical), but simply because the mullahs/Palin offer the best hope of damaging liberal democracy as the model to which the rest of the world might aspire.

  5. DJT says:

    George W Bush left office (after two full terms) in the middle of financial and economic chaos. What’s left to rehabilitate? Good Lord, the man’s administration left little more than a series of smoking craters.

  6. Bill H says:

    And, depending on how Iraq shakes out,

    It doesn’t matter how Iraq “shakes out,” Bush committed this country to a war of aggression. He led us to invade and turn into rubble a sovereign nation based on it being a threat to us when, in fact, it was not a threat to us or to anyone else and we knew that. What happens after that is irrelevant; we committed an unjust war.

    If you burn down a house you can’t claim that it “turned out well” because you killed some termites, you committed arson.

  7. c-red says:

    I have to go with anybody that misses Bush wasn’t paying attention.

    Just checking, your ‘pro’ argument for Iraq is “It may or may not have been necessary, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been”?

    Katrina was a disaster and yes Bush and Co share a hefty part of the blame. Compare the Federal response in Alabama and Mississippi. Both were reliable red states as opposed to Lousiana with a Democratic Governor.

    Sorry, I don’t miss Bush and I don’t see how anybody could. The fact that got marginally better the last year or so after kicking Rumsfield and Rove to the curb and he stopped blindly listening to Cheney doesn’t mitigate the first 7 years of disaster.

  8. AndyinNc says:

    But he wasn’t an awful president, either. And, depending on how Iraq shakes out, he might even be thought of as a pretty good one.

    Since when did triumph become a main site post writer?

  9. Steve Plunk says:

    I guess I was paying attention or failed some sort of test because I would certainly take Bush over the present White House occupant.

    Bush faced an unprecedented task when the terrorists attacked on 9/11. I noticed none of the Lefty posters even mentioned that historic event. Americans demanded action and action was called for resulting the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Iraq has an election this week that also went unmentioned by the Left since it represents exactly why we fought that war.

    Bush’s deficits were largely a result of the war and the Medicare drug benefit that many Americans saw as good policy. Some of those Americans were members of Congress that passed the law. If we compare the Bush deficits to the Obama deficits of today and the future we can see why so many Tea Party members are concerned and angry.

    Excuse me while I go order my ‘Miss me yet’ bumper sticker. It goes next to my Joker/socialist sticker.

  10. pylon says:

    Americans demanded action and action was called for resulting the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Iraq has an election this week that also went unmentioned by the Left since it represents exactly why we fought that war.

    9-11 related to Iraq how again? And the elections were somehow about getting rid of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, were they?

  11. Tom G says:

    Bush faced an unprecedented task when the terrorists attacked on 9/11.

    The Bush Administration failed to act on actionable intelligence which could have prevented 9/11 from happening in the first place.

    Also, they diverted resources and attention away from Afghanistan for the contrived war in Iraq. Bin Laden was never captured. Again, a chance that slipped away.

    As a Bush voter in 2000, I’ll never forgive myself. However, I will never let people forget how disaterous his presidency was for the U.S.

  12. DJT says:

    And never forget his initial reaction on 9/11–to sit still for seven minutes like a scared poltroon surrounded by schoolchildren.

  13. AndyinNc says:

    Excuse me while I go order my ‘Miss me yet’ bumper sticker. It goes next to my Joker/socialist sticker.

    And to think, Steve Plunk is one of the more intellectual of the Bush apologists.

  14. GS says:


    Yeah, he should have hopped into an F-16 and started roaming the skies of Washington for a jihadi-manned airliner to shoot down.

    I thought that the school incident was waaaay overblown. He handled it well. Why scare a bunch of kids who were going to find out about the worst attack on American soil ever perpetrated anyways? Let them finish the damn duck story or whatever the hell it was. Nine minutes wasn’t going to make a difference at that point; the plan had already come to fruition.

    I disagreed enormously with GWB’s domestic spend-first agenda, but his foreign policy re: the Middle East made perfect sense to anyone with an understanding of the region. Iraq has small religious parties, but are used to secular culture, and thus were the most likely to be able to accept democracy. The Shi’a/Sunni split is based on family/clan ties and age-old blood feuds, not religious enmity (to be sure, it exists to a degree, but there are more powerful factors at work). Strategically, with Afghanistan, we now have a sandwich on Iran. It had little to nothing to do with oil; we could invade Venezuela and nobody but Cuba would give a damn, and boom, oil. How many drilling contracts did Halliburton pick up again? And what about the complicity of Russia and Syria in smuggling out all manner of weaponry and equipment in the months leading up to our involvement? To think that Saddam Hussein had no intention of ever developing nuclear weapons is naive at best, idiotic at worst, particularly given that he had to know Iran was working on the same thing. You may have heard of a ten-year long war fought between Iran and Iraq? The reasoning was sound; the amateurish explanations left much to be desired. If you have the dollars, you can buy a Russian nuclear engineer, too. That country has become the world’s largest kleptocracy.

  15. Franklin says:

    Iraq has an election this week that also went unmentioned by the Left since it represents exactly why we fought that war.

    As a moderate lefty, I occasionally agree with Plunk but he is completely wrong on this sentence. While it was suggested before the war that a democracy in the Middle East might be a good thing, that was NEVER given as a valid reason to invade a sovereign country. Mostly because it’s not.

    Bush gave us three reasons to invade and two of them are now known by everybody to be false.

  16. Steve Plunk says:

    The Iraq war was not related to 9/11 but instead was based upon UN violations and the threat of WMD. I’ve said it before, if a child will not show you what’s in his hand you prudently assume he’s hiding something. That’s what Saddam did so we assumed he was working on WMD. The history of the use of nerve agents and other WMDs previously made this assumption even more valid. The creation of a Middle Eastern democracy was part of the Bush doctrine and we are rapidly approaching a successful one in Iraq.

    Initial reports of the 9/11 attacks could have been faulty so it made sense to wait a few minutes before jumping into panic mode. Like GS points out, what was it critics expected the President to do? The bureaucracy that is our Federal government may have dropped the ball on intelligence but to blame Bush, who was in his first year, is wrong.

    So it seems the biggest complaint with Bush is the Iraq war. A war approved by Congress and the American people.

  17. Dantheman says:


    “I’ve said it before, if a child will not show you what’s in his hand you prudently assume he’s hiding something. That’s what Saddam did so we assumed he was working on WMD.”

    And then we looked into his hand (UN inspections), found nothing in it, and proceeded to beat the kid up anyway. That’s why it was a war of agression.

  18. sookie says:

    James, while I agree with you. Bush is far more likely to be judge in the decent president category, maybe better depending on the middle east.

    I don’t think your readers are there yet… 🙂

  19. DJT says:

    What should “Dubya” have done?

    How about get off his ass, politely excuse himself, and go do some Presidentin’-maybe ask some freaking questions. Sheesh…

  20. Steven Donegal says:

    But he wasn’t an awful president, either.

    This disappoints me coming from a political science professor. Let’s ask a basic question: was the country better off when he left office than when he was elected? It is hard for me to think of one category where the US was in better shape in 2008 than it was in 2000. And most of the bad things his Administration had a major hand in.

  21. andrew says:

    “The Bush Administration failed to act on actionable intelligence which could have prevented 9/11 from happening in the first place.”

    What “actionable intelligence”? I hope you’re not pushing that August 2001 memo canard.

  22. andrew says:

    “And never forget his initial reaction on 9/11–to sit still for seven minutes like a scared poltroon surrounded by schoolchildren.”

    Of all the attacks that were ever thrown at Bush this one has always been the most deranged.

  23. Terrye says:

    I miss Bush every day. He never pretended to be anything he was not…which is more than can be said for the freak show in DC today. Pelosi, Reid and Obama. What a crew. You know I can remember Pelosi ranting and raving about the evil oil companies forcing us to pay $2.00 for a gallon of gas. Since then she has moved onto new villains, but that is what the Democrats do…they demonize and promise and screw up. At least Bush tried to do the right thing. I don’t think Obama even cares what the right thing is.

  24. just me says:

    I think history will judge Bush more kindly than how he is judged currently.

    I think generally presidents who were that polarizing in office end up leaving office with a lot of people still pissed off at him, but as time passes and the anger wears off things end up looking better.

    I doubt Bush will ever be ranked among the best presidents, but I suspect history will judge him less harshly than the current climate.

  25. GS says:


    Mr. Joyner can speak for himself, and I don’t presume to speak for him, but what kind of a point was that at all? There are so many things wrong with your statement that I don’t even know where to begin. I suppose it is sufficient to say that we don’t live in a static world, and thus a President should be judged on how they respond to the situations that come up during their presidency, and the initiatives that they forward which become legislative realities. The Patriot Act just codified a bunch of things that law enforcement was already able to do, and on foreign policy, Bush spearheaded the largest humanitarian effort to sub-Saharan Africa to date. He made the world uncomfortable with Iraq; it looks like that one is going to pay off. He kept Iran and North Korea on their toes, considerably more so than the open middle finger we now receive from those assclown regimes on a daily basis. He may have misjudged Putin personally, but Russia was not as active up until the very end of his term. GWB’s presidency, as James pointed out, was a mixed bag; it was not the end of human civilization as we know it.

  26. This Guy says:

    I think Sookie has it right James…most people can’t yet see past the details of the Bush years to the bigger picture. I remember watching an interview with some Japanese leader several years ago (I forget who) where the interviewer asked “what effect did the bombing of Hiroshima have on your country” and his answer was “its too early to tell.”
    Most Americans don’t have this perspective.

    I have said since 2004 that Bush would eventually be seen as a good president, maybe even great. Katrina certainly hurt that, but you’re right that there were too many cooks in the kitchen to put all the blame on Bush. And, Rumsfeld should have been dismissed well before 2007.

    Bush made a lot of mistakes and pissed lots of people off but that’s because he took on the huge tasks that were presented to him (9-11) and he did it with resolve. Sure he screwed the pooch a few times along the way, though to say he could have prevented it is bullshit. In life there are always haters, in politics they are worse, obviously.

    President Obama, on the other hand, has not taken on the challenges that were presented to him (jobs/economy) he has chased his own dreams and objectives (health care/global warming) despite an unwilling public and one could argue he has shown little if any inspiration or vigor. For these reasons, his numbers are crashing and he will not win re-election. And although his will be seen as a historic presidency, he will be seen as a mediocre president. In fact, if he doesn’t make something happen soon, it may be that the only positive that will be parroted about him in the history books, besides being the first “not 100% Caucasian” president, is that (to borrow a line from Chris Rock) “he speaks so well…he’s so well spoken”, but even that will be couched in sentiments that Reagan was better and Obama relied to heavily on prompters.

    Bush wasn’t perfect, but he took on the challenges he was presented and led with conviction…And, yeah I miss that in our leader.

  27. Gerry W. says:

    And Bush did nothing on the economy. His tax cuts, trickle down ideology, without cutting spending and having a war created deficits and debt. It was “stay the course” as deficits went up. Bush never invested in our country, in our people, and in the future. Today, we are paying the price. All we saw for 8 years is our jobs going overseas, our money going to Iraq, and the neglect of the country. We saw the country going downhill some 5 years ago, even though the numbers said otherwise. Bush did a “guns and butter” economics the same as LBJ. It will take some 10 to 20 years to fix our economy with this mess.

    The war was mismanaged throughout and we “stayed the course” until Murtha started ranting on the situation. You had the Iraq Study Group and others trying to fix it with the surge, and the surge worked. Bush never consulted Brent Scrowcroft, James Baker, Bob Gates, or his father. And when asked, Bush said he “believed in a higher authority.” Bush only had 170,000 soldiers for 2 wars and the wars not paid for and his father 500,000 soldiers for one war and the war paid for. A lot of soldiers died in this quagmire, in which everyone understood beforehand. Osama Bin Laden is still at large, Afghanistan is a mess, Pakistan is a basket case, and Iran is the new leader in the Middle East.

    Today we have globalization that has taken our jobs. We have had 30 years of consolidation and mergers with the relaxed antitrust laws and that has taken our jobs and created price fixing and the little guy cannot survive. Today cities and states are searching for answers, and they go with cash for clunkers, extension of unemployment benefits, and casinos for every state. There is not enough jobs to supply 2 billion cheap laborers around the world and our country with reduced wages. As I said before, it will take some 10 to 20 years to fix our economy-if we get our act together.

  28. This Guy says:


    That kind of proves my point, you are looking at 10-20 years, and the consequences of some of the positive stuff Bush did won’t be fully realized for several decades. By the way, what is wrong with believing in a higher authority? I think that was the basis of the Obama campaign (Hope).

    But i digress, even if we accept all of your points as true, and it is that obvious a problem…why is the Obama Administration hell-bent on health care reform, a multi trillion dollar entitlement program, and not jobs jobs jobs?

    The economy is Obama’s 9-11, and he is still telling the duck story to elementary school children A YEAR LATER!

  29. Gerry W. says:

    I don’t know anything that was positive under Bush. Maybe you can elaborate. Certainly Bush ignored the economy and as far as the Middle East, everyone had to fix it. While I don’t agree with Obama, I criticize the republicans with not dealing with our economy. Republicans only run on ideology and that failed. We are losing the middle class. And it is jobs, jobs, jobs, which should have been dealt with years ago. I hold the republicans to a higher standard. After all, they are the ones that are supposed to understand economics. Unfortunately, it is all ideology.

  30. Steve Plunk says:

    Gerry W.,

    The states and cities problem are a result of overly generous wage and benefits packages for public employees. Look at California. Unfunded pension obligations are not Bush’s fault.

    The Bush deficits are small compared to what Obama has in store for us and most of those deficits were a result of war spending. Now we may disagree with the war in general but it was supported by the people and the Congress. The Middle East is still something of a mess but it’s likely they always will be based upon cultural problems and the clash of civilizations.

    The jobs going overseas is not Bush’s fault either. Those jobs started leaving decades ago.

    Bush was not perfect but overall he will be judged as an effective president during a trying time.

  31. AndyinNc says:

    By the standards that the Bush apologists in here have for presidential success, I can only assume that they think Jimmy Carter is one of the greatest presidents ever.

  32. Gerry W. says:


    I can’t speak for California. However, we are losing the middle class. Target is lowering everyone’s wages. Meijers has reduced wages. Factories have closed due to globalization. You have consolidation and mergers and people are losing jobs there. This is due to trashing of anti trust laws by Reagan, Clinton went with it, and Bush ignored all the problems. Today, if you can find a job, it will pay less, and it maybe part time. There was no progress in wages and jobs for the past decade. We cannot compete with some 2 billion cheap laborers in the world. So our wages have to come down. Do you think this is progress? And cities and states are going broke as our jobs go overseas and factories close. But hey, we had 8 years of tax cuts and that solved all the problems. It was ideology and it failed.

    Bush came into office with a surplus. Not much, but it was positive. The deficits and debt went up under Bush. He left this country in a mess. It was no cuts in spending, the addition of Medicare part D, the loss of jobs, two wars, and nothing for our future. Add to that a financial crisis, a housing crisis, an automotive crisis. It was a “guns and butter” economics, the same that LBJ did. LBJ created inflation and Bush created deficits and debt. Granted, Bush had to deal with 9/11 and Afghanistan. He could have raised a tax to pay for it, and it was a low cost at the time as it was just one war. Add Iraq and that was not paid for. His father had his war paid for.

    And as far as the support for war. It is the way you word it. It was conveniently put as a “war on terror.” Confusing the American population. And if you were against it, as people have tried, you were trashed.

    The jobs going overseas may not be Bush’s fault, but can we recognize that we have a problem for jobs? I saw it years ago. Bush “stayed the course” with tax cuts. That was his ideology for job creation. And unfortunately, republicans today, do not understand how our economy works, or at least do not know how to create jobs. All they go by is ideology. How about something practical by investing in our country, in our people, and in the future. And since that was not done, that is why I say, that it will take some 10 to 20 years to fix. Obama is not doing much better. It is unfortunate. All you need is one president to say we are going to invest in our country, in our people, and in the future and do it, and get rid of the ideology.|main|dl8|link6|

  33. Mike Timmons says:

    When I hear all this stuff about victory in Iraq because it looks like Democracy is florishing there, I remember a scene from “Adams family values”

    Amanda: Hi! I’m Amanda Buckman. Why are you dressed like that?
    Wednesday: Like what?
    Amanda: Like you’re going to a funeral. Why are you dressed like somebody died?
    Wednesday: Wait.

    It looks like everything is going well in Iraq, just “wait”. Newsweek is only setting up Obama for causing “failure” in Iraq, when it is inevitable that Iraq will fail. Because you know Iran will not let them succeed, ever.

  34. steve says:

    “I disagreed enormously with GWB’s domestic spend-first agenda, but his foreign policy re: the Middle East made perfect sense to anyone with an understanding of the region.”

    I have been there, have read a lot on the area and occasionally write (poorly) on the area. His invasion made little sense, most especially in its timing. I fit was going to make any sense at all, it needed to be done correctly. It had already been war gamed and a lot of the post invasion problems were predictable. We needed to send a lot more military police, a lot more troops. We needed a plan to replace Iraq as the primary buffer against Iran in the area. The invasion, especially the timing was poorly thought out. The execution was dumb beyond belief. Disbanding the military alone stands out as idiotic.

    On economics, Bush will be judged harshly. He added new programs without paying for them. He did not address our debt or our biggest coming problem, health care. No, a few words on the issue do not count. Where were his year’s worth of meetings and risk of political capital?

    I still think James is largely right though. He finally bucked up and canned Rumsfeld and starting ignoring Cheney. His last 2 1/2 years had some positives that will pull him out of worst ever territory. Never into great.


  35. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I though for a moment I had mistakenly logged on the The Daily KOS. There are some real thinkers on here. Bush responsible for the economic crisis at the end of his Presidency? If you forget who controlled congress. The Democrats pressure to make it possible for unsecured loans is far more responsible than Bush. Since intellectual honesty is so rare when it comes to discussing George W. Bush, F*ck off.

  36. Gerry W. says:

    We saw the deficits and debt over 5 years ago. That was when the republicans were in charge. It was an economy and country that ran on ideology. And that ideology failed. The last two years of Bush, Bush was basically done with the economy. He did everything to destroy it and went on to foreign policy. It was 8 years of seeing our jobs going overseas, our money going to Iraq, and the neglect of our economy.

    Bush also called for a “home ownership society” in his state of the union speech. And just as many republicans did not want to put regulation on the financial institutions. But we are not only dealing with an economic crisis. We are dealing with a trickle down theory that failed. That was spent money and does us no good now. So we lost our leverage of tax cuts to stimulate the economy. The fed has had interest rates low for a long time. Again, there is no more leverage to jump start the economy. After years of neglect and the loss of jobs to China and other countries (globalization), and an antitrust law almost diminished, we are losing the middle class.

  37. Adam says:

    How quickly people forget. Obama, though far from perfect, was at a considerable disadvantage when he started b/c he had to clean up the previous administration’s messes. (Indeed, it’s unlikely Obama would ever have been elected but for the disaster of the Bush administration.) It’s not just Iraq that made Bush’s administration catastrophic, but that’s a fine place to start. Not only did the Bush Admin lead the US into the war on false pretenses, which squandered US credibility, he also streched the military thin and diverted resources from the more relevant fight in Afghanistan. (More relevant in the sense that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11) His administratiion also failed to prepare for the occupation. Key positions were reserved for people whose main qualfications were loyalty to the President and ideological purity. And don’t forget the enormous cost of the war–at least $1 trillion, up to $3 million by some estimates. That, combined with the policy that deficits don’t matter, massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and new entitlement programs transformed a modest budget surplus into a massive debt. And the loose money policy of the Fed under Greenspan, combined with lax SEC enforcement, created conditions that caused the financial crisis.

    There are too many scandals to recount, but among the most serious abuses of power were the institution of a regime of torture, extrajudicial surveillance targeted at US citizens, the politicization of the Justice Dep’t (including terminations of US attys who refused to file politically-motivated cases to influence elections), corrupt no-bid contracts awarded to firms associated with the VP, use of the fear of terrorism to accomplish political goals irrelevant to terrorism, revealing the identity of a CIA agent to retaliate against the agent’s for discrediting evidence linking Sadaam to nuclear materials, and politicizing the CIA by appointing a partisan Republican to lead the agency after Tenet was forced out. Let us not forget the culture of unaccountability–awarding Tenet the presidential medal, “heckuva job Brownie,” etc.

    But the worst aspect of the Bush presidency is the fact that he divided the country at a time when it needed unity. Instead, his White House encouraged Repubs to use the fear of terrorism after 9/11 to try to forge a Repub majority for a generation–remember the senatorial campaign against GA’s Max Cleland, a Dem and a war hero (he lost 3 limbs in Viet nam)? Rove branded him a terrorist sympathizer, and he lost in a landslide. That was typical of the politics of the Bush presidency, particularly from 2002-2005.

    We may have forgotten most of these abuses, but history will not. Bush will always be considered one of the worst presidents of all time.

  38. tom p says:

    “And never forget his initial reaction on 9/11–to sit still for seven minutes like a scared poltroon surrounded by schoolchildren.”

    Of all the attacks that were ever thrown at Bush this one has always been the most deranged.

    As a solidly leftist liberal socialist marxist pinko fag, I have to say I totally agree with andrew on this.

    Just exactly what was he supposed to do at that moment? Yes, he looked like a deer in the headlights… but what would I have looked like? An armadillo? You? 5#’s of ‘possum?

    I have nothing good to say about Bush. But he deserves better than that.

  39. DJT says:

    Right, it’s absolutely deranged for one to think that the Commander-in-Chief should not be completely in the dark about the situation.

    All of us watching at home saw what was going on. He didn’t. Imagine when hearing the news NOT turning on the TV or radio for more information. For the President to do what he did was a shameful dereliction of duty.

  40. DJT says:

    It wasn’t just “at that moment” either. It was anywhere between seven and ten minutes that he was listening to kids recite from a book. He was completely in the dark for nearly ten minutes after the second tower was struck. I guess he figured there was nothing, really, for the CINC to do during an attack on the two tallest buildings in the nation’s largest city. Not even, apparently, to display a modicum of curiosity.

  41. andrew says:

    “All of us watching at home saw what was going on. He didn’t. Imagine when hearing the news NOT turning on the TV or radio for more information. For the President to do what he did was a shameful dereliction of duty.”

    What the hell are you talking about? There was nothing that he could physically do at that point. Waiting for a few minutes while his stuff gathered information and the Secret Service rearranged their planes was perfectly appropriate. If he had stood up and walked off immediately then the loony Left would be accusing him of panicking. Try thinking for once in your life.

  42. Gerry W. says:

    Here is the problem I have with republicans. I belong to a conservative web site to try to understand them and basically it is the constitution, tax cuts, cut spending, big military, big business, religion, and God and country. To wrap all this up, they believe in ideology. If you give tax cuts, then you spur business and everyone will be happy. Business will make business and they will create jobs.

    But here is the real picture. We had 8 years of tax cuts and in my town of 16,000 in the Midwest , 3 plants shut down. That is a total of 2000 jobs. In short, there is no jobs here. Now all around me for years we have seen our middle class jobs go away. So what good is tax cuts when you lose your job? Now if we are for free trade and we lose the jobs, then you have to replace those jobs. Since that was not done, states are fighting for cash for clunkers, extension of unemployment benefits, and for casinos. Is this the right route to go? And what power do the states have when some 2 billion cheap laborers are clamoring for our jobs?

    And in the article I listed before “Who broke America’s job machine”, the antitrust laws were diminished since Reagan, further making it worse to have a job with plant closings with consolidation and mergers. I suppose, with ideology, it made sense to a republican to reduce regulation, but it backfired as people lost jobs and the elite took over more of our country.

    The little guy has no chance anymore. In my town with the loss of factories, you cannot have a small business as it takes big business to have small business. (Traffic)

    I have a cousin who has a farm, who cannot have animals as Tyson and Smithfield dominates that area of farming. So that drives out the small farmer.

    We had 8 years of tax cuts and it did not prevent a recession, the tax cuts mostly went to the rich, and we saw our jobs go overseas.

    There is no doubt in my mind that we are losing the middle class. And all I ask is for some republican to try to explain to me in how they create jobs. I have not seen it.

    The republicans talk a lot. They are on FOX and they know it all. But do they have answers? I haven’t seen anything yet. They just keep talking of the same ideology. While democrats seem to be lost, the republicans seem to be lost in how to run the country also. Certainly at this point, the republicans are no friends of the middle class as I have seen many jobs lost and even if you are lucky to have a job, your pay has been cut. Some progress.

  43. jpb says:

    Reluctantly supporting an illegal invasion and occupation of a foreign nation, the slaughter of their innocent civilians and the plundering of our treasury to accomplish it is not something to be proud of.

  44. The Q says:

    George W. Bush’s Rehabilitation?

    Yeah, and I hear Stalin is making a comeback in Russia.

    To use Mr. Plunk’s extremely idiotic kid metaphor:

    “Hey Dad, I just fixed the car i crashed and it only cost $10 million dollars.

    But son, the car was only worth $5000.

    Silly Dad, in 5 years we will look back at what I did as a success since we will only judge whether the car is running and not the insane amount of money I spent which bankrupted you and Mom to fix it.”

    Hey guys, Milliard Fillmore is still a shittty president, and that’s with 160 years to re-evaluate.

    You guys all drank the Bush koolaid when he was spotted with a book about George Washington under his arm and he babbled about how after 200 years the jury is still out on Washington’s presidency so he’ll let historians judge his.

    WTF, jury still out on Washington’s presidency????

    Seriously, how can any of you college educated, informed men possibly look at Iraq as anything other than a complete unmitigated foreign policy disaster?

    Let me take you back, if you will, to the night of 9/11/01…after watching the horror of that day’s tragedy…after watching before our very eyes the collapse of the twin towers…remember the visceral sickness we all had that night…and the resolve that if it was indeed this guy named bin laden and his cohort of Al Qaeda henchmen that there would be hell to pay….that this was WORSE than Pearl Harbor, it was on American soil that we would “cry havoc and unleash the dogs of war” and smite this world of any such enemy capable of such calamity……

    Now just think if I were to mysteriously appear and whisper into your ear that night…

    “you know, let me tell you something you are not going to believe… 9 years later, we still haven’t killed bin laden and we will give up the search to go invade a country which had nothing to do with 911 and in fact this invasion will give Iran hegemony it could only dream of now. And then Iraqi’s will elect a government of Shiites who are of the same faith and sympathies as those that killed our 3000 new yorkers. Also our economy will tank, our dollar collapse and the world will turn a cold shoulder to our cries of help….

    And here’s the real shocker, the worst tragedy of all…9 years from now you will call this, (drum roll please)

    A SUCCESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And people ask why I think conservatives are friggin morons?

    With my apologize to you Mr. Joyner.

  45. Gerry W. says:

    I don’t know where to begin with this. I have been on other right wing web sites and kicked off. They don’t want to here another view. After all, anything left of Bush is liberal. Having said that, democrats seem to always have their head up their rear ends. I excuse them as they don’t know any better. I was led to believe years ago that republicans understood economics. But what we have found out (and thanks to 8 years of Bush and the internet that brings out all views) is that republicans rely on ideology and nothing else matters. I think this is all based on the constitution. They take the constitution literally. It means that with federalism there should be a separation of powers between the states and the federal government. Now, I have no problem with that within reason. However, even they blur the lines. What right is it (as they want to do on the right) do they want to enforce religion in schools or public property. And these right wing nuts don’t realize that they have to include the Koran, prayer rugs, and Burkas. And you have to ask, what religion is going to be the “state” religion. And then, it means that maybe the religious organizations would have to pay taxes if they get involved with the government.

    Tax cuts goes with the constitution also. In other words, the right wing believes that states should solve their own problems. However, they are willing to sign agreements to send our jobs away and states are desperate for jobs. So that enforcement interferes with the states. And then the right wing federal government can only give tax cuts to solve all problems as that is under the constitution that it is your money. In the mean time, we lose the jobs. This explains why Reagan gave tax cuts and did little else on the domestic front. And Bush 43 gave 8 years of tax cuts while we saw plants shut down and our jobs go overseas. And all throughout, it was “stay the course.” Never mind if there are problems, never mind that a president could think, never mind if people lost jobs. It is all based on ideology. (laissez-faire)

    This explains why republican presidents ignore all the problems as long they give tax cuts. Then it is on to foreign policy. Republicans go mostly for foreign policy as their agenda for domestic growth is completed. (Tax cuts)

    Never mind about Osama Bin Laden. Never mind about the amount of troops needed. Never mind if there is a plan. And please don’t talk to the experts on Iraq. And never mind what past policies were. Also we had for 8 years a born again Christian, who even said that he got guidance from God.

    Beyond this. We have seen through the years, The Laffer Curve, Wage and Price controls, WIN buttons, Trickle down, guns and butter economics, and whatever else. And they all fail. Add 535 congressmen and senators who will take our country in 535 directions. And add tea parties that will take us 1000 directions and we cannot get anything done. Reagan relaxed the antitrust laws, thinking this was good for the country. And it only destroyed jobs and presently we are losing the middle class. And sometime from Reagan’s term to now, we should have wised up to globalization and we have not.

    In capitalism, there are ups and downs. People fall through the cracks. I guess that is where democrats come in and they have gone to far with their social programs as far as spending. All these programs need fixing and I have no problem with that, but something has to be given in return. A government has to invest in the country, in its people, and in the future. I view our government no different than a business or household. You spend your money wisely, you invest wisely. And you always invest for the future.That is not to say there won’t be wasted money, but you cannot ignore problems. The ignorance has cost us at least a trillion dollars in lost jobs with cities and states going broke and the upheaval of middle class Americans. And also the funding of city, state, and federal programs.

    In short, democrats are dumb and republicans are a bunch of nuts.